Every era in sport has a beginning and an end. The transition or the changing of the guard is often spoken of with great excitement on one hand and a feeling of abandonment on the other. It does however instill new life into the sport in question and with it, brings new young fans that are drawn to the stars. The recently concluded US Open Tennis Championship saw two of the “Big Four”, Roger Federer & Novak Djokovic battle it out once again for Men’s Singles honours. The Big Four of the Tennis world have won 42 of the last 48 Grand Slams since 2004 and managed to only give the hungry posse of young stars a mere sniff of any vulnerability that surrounds them. The same can be said of the World Cup winning Australian Cricket Team who often see their best players debut past the age of 30 and yet deliver results that fledgling aspirants can only dream of. To the naked eye, the game of golf in comparison is perhaps a lot less physically demanding and less age dependent.
The world of Golf has witnessed a rapid change and a seismic shift to a power-game is clearly evident. We have – over the last 12 months – witnessed one of the most transformational years in recent golf history. The rise of new golfers with incredible mental strength and offensive game-play have emerged on the scene and usurped the very players they have perhaps modeled their game on, like Tiger Woods. Players are fitter, leaner and younger. The winning combination of longer courses with modern clubs & balls means that striking the ball 340 yards off the tee is no longer freaky and rare. And the ability to steal the best part of an idol’s game is now a video analysis or 3D Swing Motion Sensor session away. Didn’t Pablo Picasso once say, “Good artists borrow, but great artists steal”.
The world of Golf has witnessed a rapid change and a seismic shift to a power-game is clearly evident
Away from Tiger’s struggles or Rory’s tantrums, there is already a shift towards the new crop of players, who are on the move. What’s different this time around is that the depth to the field is greater than ever, with the impressive 20-somethings of Fowler & Matsuyama to Patrick Reed & Horschel always in the hunt.
Rivalries often outline sport and it might be unreasonable to find any likeness to the past of Palmer vs Nicklaus, but Spieth & Rory who hold all the Majors between them, have set themselves apart from the pack, reignited great interest and obliterated the stigma once again among the new generation, that Golf is just an old man’s game!
“A sureshot sign of the transition is even a look at the EA Sports Golf game for instance where Tiger makes way on the cover for the first time in 15 years,” chuckles PGTI player Sandeep Syal. “The change is honestly great and it has resonated into India with players wanting to get fitter & stronger. The kids I’m coaching too have multiple role models to watch & emulate for the first time, from this current crop of the rising stars.”
Rory McIlroy at 26 has already banked 4 Majors, Jordan Spieth at 22 and just 32 weeks into professional golf became the second youngest World No. 1, while Jason Day at 27 proved he was no slouch by holding off Spieth to win the PGA Championship. At 1-2-3 in the rankings today, it’s the first time in over 15 years & since Tiger-Duval-Els, that the world’s top 3 golfers are in their 20s.
Suhail Chandhok is an avid Golfer & currently one of India’s leading Sports Presenters & Commentators having worked on properties such as the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, Pro Kabaddi League, Hero Indian Super League, Hero Hockey India League and the global FIA Formula E Series over the past year.